A partnership between the state-owned Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), the London-based architecture and technology firm PLP Labs (the research spinoff of PLP Architecture), and LogistikCentrum have released a new study and report proposing a new direction for public transit. Called NuMo, for New Urban Mobility, the proposed technology allows for highly efficient, electric-powered home-to-destination transit either over existing infrastructure or on new construction. The report claims that most cities rely on a less efficient 19th-century model of public transit, where trains and buses come at times at long intervals or unpredictably and can be either virtually empty or totally packed and uncomfortable. With NuMo, autonomous electric cars would be booked through an app and come directly to your current location. From there they would take off, eventually joining other NuMo cars with passengers or cargo in a “high-speed platoon.” The electric cars could then pull off at any point to pick up more passengers for carpooling, or to bring passengers directly to their destination. One of the central inefficiencies with traditional human-operated automobiles is that they have to be spaced fairly far apart from one another when moving and be given enough horizontal space to account for the inaccuracies and shifts from people operating them. Automated cars in a NuMo platoon would be able to “move within milliseconds of one another,” staying close together, reportedly reducing lane width by over three feet, fitting two cars into a single lane. In a NuMo-designed city, there would be a central control system with automated intersection control and load balancing, as well as vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and the ability prevent stopping and congestion, potentially ending traffic jams and accidents. Within the cities, cars would travel between approximately 20 to 40 miles per hour and outside they could reach speeds of 50 miles per hour. These NuMo cars and platoons could travel on existing infrastructure in specialized lanes, including in currently underused bus lanes or roads. The cars could also accompany the development of new roads over land or underwater, becoming a transit solution and network that, much like earlier subways and bus routes, could reshape how disparate parts of the city relate to one another. Such consolidation and optimization could help return streets to pedestrians and cyclists and, the researchers claim, could result in much greater capacity than current transit options. Open to all autonomous vehicles, NuMo is a protocol designed to be introduced to cities gradually. The researchers developed models for Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden, while also considering larger cities like London and New York. They claim that four-person cars set to travel only one second from one another would be twice the capacity of 120 passenger buses running a minute apart, quadrupling transport capacity and reducing travel time by a third while having no extra cost over building comparable traditional transit infrastructure. NuMo’s combination of autonomous electric vehicles, infrastructure overhauls, and efficient sustainable design is, according to Lars Hesselgren, director of research at PLP Architecture, “the next best thing to teleportation.”
Posts tagged with "Stockholm":
Brought to you with support fromThe first of two new OMA-designed Brutalist-inspired towers, known as Norra Tornen, has officially been opened in Stockholm, Sweden. The 125-meter-tall residential tower is the tallest in the city, and when joined by its partner will act as a major gateway into the city.
Reinier de Graaf was on hand for the opening of the building saying, “With a limited articulation of a given form, without breaking any rules, we were able to produce something that was quite different, quite surprising.” He continued to discuss the link between the industrial processes of building the prefabricated tower and its form. “It’s about repetition. It's about repeating one detail, in and out, and reversing it every other floor. And from the one repetitive industrial detail we can produce something highly varied.” When the second tower is completed next year the two towers will in some ways bring Brutalist architecture full circle. The term “Nybrutalism,” was first used in Sweden by famed local architect Hans Asplund in the 1950s and made famous by Reyner Banham. With the recent popularity of Brutalism in academic circles and preservation efforts around the world, it was only a matter of time before a major contemporary project be completed in the much-maligned style.Formally and materially, the project is defined by 5,000 prefabricated panels, which also act as the main framework for the building. The “sandwich” panels include all the wall systems, including the windows, insulation, and exterior facade. This system, which is manufactured in Sweden, means that construction can happen at a breakneck speed, with new floors rising by the week. The facade is composed of robotically bush-hammered multi-colored stone aggregate concrete panels. From a distance, the tan concrete form of the building makes the Brutalist reference very clear. Upon closer inspection, the striated articulation of the concrete is highlighted by large pink, yellow, red, and brown aggregate embodied along the panels' ribs. Thanks to the pixelated form of the building, the facade’s surface area is greatly increased. This provides space for more windows, to capture as much fleeting Nordic sunlight as possible, as well as numerous recessed terraces for the temperate summers. It is also on these terraces that the finely finished facade can best be experienced. This articulation of form and choice of material ended up being the major architectural moves of the project, as the overall shape of the building was inherited by developer Oscar Properties from an earlier design by a city architect. OMA partner and lead designer of Norra Tornen,
The shutdown of the Foster + Partners–designed “town square”–style Apple store in Stockholm by the new City Council was only the beginning. Now, the city won’t appeal a decision on May 22 by Sweden’s Land and Environment Court to halt construction of the $132 million Nobel Center, effectively dooming the David Chipperfield Architects–designed complex. Stockholm’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics has also been halted, leaving only Calgary and a joint bid between Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo remaining on the shortlist. The shift is the direct result of the new center-right coalition established in the City Council between the right-leaning Alliance group and the Green Party following an election on September 9 that left the council without a majority group in power. The new power-sharing agreement was only realized in mid-October owing to the more than eight active major parties in Sweden's national politics. The coalition was predicated on two major deals: blocking the Winter Olympics bid and stopping the Nobel Center. This isn’t the first time that Chipperfield’s Nobel Center has faced pushback from the city government, and a revised, more contextual design was presented back in 2016. Opponents have argued that the Center, formed from two stacked boxes wrapped in vertical bronze louvers, would destroy the cultural and historic fabric of Stockholm’s Blasieholmen peninsula. The Blasieholmen extends into the Klara Sjö canal, and the Center would have oriented its double-height presentation out toward the waterfront to provide a permanent home for all future Nobel Prize award ceremonies. Despite the smaller footprint and a tighter circulation plan, the court ruling in May dinged the proposal for the building’s size, out-of-context color, and sensitive location. Now that the City Council has pledged to let the ruling stand, the Nobel Foundation is crying foul. “For the past seven years, we have acted in accordance with our agreements,” Foundation executive director Lars Heikensten told the Architects’ Journal. “We interpret today’s announcement as meaning that the Alliance, in co-operation with the Green Party, is trying to diverge from signed agreements. “A project of major, long-term significance for Stockholm as a city of science and a center for lively discussion in the spirit of Alfred Nobel is thus at risk of being sacrificed to short-term political interests.” David Chipperfield Architects released their own statement, saying that, “The project for the Nobel Centre has been developed over the last five years through a process of continuous dialogue between the client team, planners and the city authority. We are, therefore, extremely disappointed by this announcement.” If Stockholm’s city government ultimately decides not to challenge the lower court’s ruling, the Nobel Foundation will need to go back to the drawing board and choose an alternate location for the Center.
Apple's product design may win the company accolades, but the same cannot be said of its recent forays into architecture. Stockholm is the latest city after Melbourne to push back on the tech behemoth's plans for a new store. What Apple is calling its "town square" concept, designed by Foster + Partners, is being decried as an attempt to privatize the city's oldest and arguably most important public space, Kungsträdgården, or the King's Garden. Stockholm's new city government, elected into office this month, has announced that the Apple store project is welcome elsewhere, but that it would block the company's attempt to set up shop in the park. Currently, Kungsträdgården establishes a direct visual link to the Royal Palace and serves as the site of the city's major celebrations, protests, and public debates. “It is the thread that pulls together the historical power of the monarchy with the commercial blocks of Hamngatan and the working-class districts of Södermalm. This is very important for democracy because it has to do with power, symbolically and spatially,” Johanna Jarméus of Nyréns Arkitektkontor, a Swedish architecture firm, told The Guardian. The design by Foster + Partners dominates the public square, making it appear to be the main structure defining the space, with the garden serving the building. Or, as the editor of Arkitektur, a major Swedish architecture magazine, put it more bluntly, “It’s like a parasite.” The Apple store design requires the company to annex about 4,000 square feet of public park space in addition to the plot it has already purchased. The company has made a similar proposal to use public land for its Federation Square store in Melbourne. The King's Garden plot is offered to developers on the condition that they offer restaurants and cafes for the park, and is currently home to a TGI Fridays. The Apple design would also require rezoning the site for retail. For Apple, the dominance of public space is itself the point. "We call them town squares because they’re gathering places where everyone is welcome,” as Apple's vice president of retail said last year at one of the company's staged launches. It appears that the residents of Stockholm and the 1,800 public comments, most negative, against the plan, disagree. Stockholm's city government may have declared its opposition to the Apple "town square" store, but there's a hitch—the company still owns the plot of land. Still, some are envisioning a public park where there is no building at all, requiring a much bigger, longer battle to define what the park's future will be.
The Center Party, a Swedish political party, has commissioned Anders Berensson Architects to design a speculative plan for a mass timber development in Stockholm. The design for the scheme was recently released without a timeline for execution. The development is a collection of towers and sky bridges built on top of the existing waterfront neighborhood of Masthamnen. The plan would leave the buildings below relatively untouched but would cap them with a public park and walkway level over which the new towers would rise. The designers embraced wood as a building material because it "releases the least carbon dioxide." Renderings show interiors and exteriors clad with wood finishes, and the architects describe the buildings using mass timber technologies like cross-laminated timber (CLT). The imaginative scheme is meant to provide additional housing close to the center of Stockholm, where the housing market is tight and space is expensive. There are no apparent plans to enact the proposal. The Center Party has worked with Berensson before on speculative designs for the city, many of which have included timber high-rises. The party has relatively little power to realize these ideas as they are the opposition party in the city's government, which is controlled by the Social Democrats. Timber has received a lot of attention in Sweden as a structural material for high-rises, although it's not clear what the country has been able to realize so far. Globally, mass timber is starting to make inroads as a standard building technique, but it faces a long road to widespread adoption in the U.S.
The streets of Stockholm are still littered with the fading colors of campaign posters from an undecided election. From the pink backdrop of feminist candidates, to progressive reds, conservative blues, and the struggling greens, to the slippery, slick gradients of the neo-nationalists. The politics of the public sphere have been unavoidable lately in Sweden, but a couple of heavy rains are slowly turning what’s left behind back into grey pulp. Meanwhile, Value in the Virtual, an exhibit by London-based Space Popular, blossoms with a polychrome array of signs, patterns, and symbols. The show has just opened at Sweden’s national center for architecture and design, ArkDes, under new its director Kieran Long. A new feature of the museum is a smaller gallery space—Boxen, a steel box designed by local practice Dehlin Brattgård—inside one of the two main exhibition halls. It is intended for fast-paced architecture shows curated by former ArchDaily editor James Taylor-Foster, and Value in the Virtual is the first display of work by a contemporary design practice in the new setup. The Space Popular duo, Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg, have grabbed the opportunity to build what they describe as their manifesto. It consists of six "typical" Stockholm environments—a downtown apartment, a vintage-styled coworking café, an exclusive nightlife district, a banquet hall, an iconic subway station, and a royal park—retrofitted with an added layer of augmented reality. They are rendered in 1:1-scale elevations printed on tapestries and hung from scaffolding in cornered-off spaces. Each corner is a mash-up with "walls" from two or three locations. Entering the exhibition space, you are invited to take your shoes off (to experience the printed carpets on the floors), and once inside, to put on a pair of virtual reality goggles. They are a window into Voxen, a parallel version of the same gallery space produced for Sansar, a social virtual reality platform. During the press preview, an online visitor had already found his way there for a peek. The avatar, dressed in a black bodysuit and a Daft Punk motorcycle helmet, showed up out of nowhere, mumbled a distorted "nice to meet you," and soon disappeared. In this realm, you get 3-D views of some of Space Popular’s scenarios: one is a version of Stockholm where public art is updated by the minute; in another the allegorical wall mosaics of the Nobel Prize venue are adjusted to tout recent scientific achievements; and in another a selective nightclub bouncer might actually let you in after all, if you upgrade to a nicer-looking "skin." For a casual visitor to be able to follow the narratives, though, some additional guidance would be welcome. Instead, the dense 3-D visuals are trusted to speak for themselves. An argument underlying Value in the Virtual is that architects could, and should, engage with the potential digital depth of architectural surfaces, as well as what comes with it: cognitive psychology, color theory, and the techniques to manipulate it. The exhibit seems to say, "Get on with it and design your own digital tapestry for the scaffolding that is, for lack of a better word, the real world. And if you don’t," the argument is, "somebody else will." And when augmented reality hardware moves from "a drawer on your face" to a casual pair of glasses, virtual dressing of space, and the market for virtual real estate, could become a big deal. “What is the role of the architect and designer in this transition?” a section of the wall text asks, when designers are “not bound by a requirement to shelter" nor “to the various physical limitations” we are used to? Either way, many architects are already engaged. Architecture school graduates, especially in the United States, are increasingly recruited by software companies before they even contemplate a career as licensed master-builders. Architecture is already part of the $137.9-billion gaming industry market, but perhaps not in familiar ways. The exhibition wants to look at what is going on while augmented reality is still in its infancy and to figure out the consequences of the tech before it is sitting on everyone’s face. Will visitors get it? Do the chosen scenarios illustrate what is actually claimed to be at stake? What is the real promise here? What is the threat? This stuff is touched upon in the exhibition brochure but not very evident in the exhibit itself. And if the argument is made more clearly in writing in Space Popular’s ten-point programmatic declaration, what does the gallery display add, except a VR demo and an institutional seal of approval? Maybe that’s enough. It’s a start to the conversation Space Popular wants us to have. Stockholm is normally very neat. Putting up posters is prohibited, and the rules are generally abided by. Political campaign material is the exception, and come election season, the city is carpeted with colorful platitudes and slogans. Public space is already a kind of virtual real estate, a moderated social medium that is regulated, traded, and hacked. It always has been, you could argue. Sure, the visual exploitation of it is augmented by new technologies, but the question, then, is if that augmentation does something that didn't happen before. The politics of augmentation are not that different to the conflicts of interest, power plays, and negotiations of spatial politics already being debated. A peephole into another world can make you forget where you are standing at the moment. Sometimes, a mirror would perhaps be more useful. Space Popular: Value in the Virtual, curated by James Taylor-Foster, is on view at ArkDes, Sweden's national center for architecture and design in Stockholm through November 18, 2018.
After the revised scheme for David Chipperfield’s Nobel Center in Stockholm sailed through a city council vote in 2016, Sweden’s Land and Environment Court halted construction on the project on May 22. The $132 million complex was set to break ground on Stockholm’s Blasieholmen peninsula and would serve as a permanent home for all Nobel Prize ceremonies going forward. Chipperfield’s revised design, presented in 2016 to address concerns that the Nobel Center would be too large for the historically sensitive district in which it sits, would see two stacked boxes wrapped in vertical brass louvers dropped right on the waterfront. Although the project passed an additional vote by the Stockholm County Administrative Board last year, the ruling has put a hold on construction over the building's size, color, and sensitive location. The City of Stockholm will reportedly appeal the decision to a higher court. In ruling against the Center’s construction, the court wrote that the building would have a negative impact on the area’s cultural heritage, claiming it would “cause significant damage” to the district’s environment, and “would affect the readability of Stockholm's historical development as a port, shipping and trading city.” Inside, Chipperfield’s scheme for the Center is anchored by an large sunken stage overlooking the Klara Sjö canal, framed by an enormous double-height window bay. When Nobel Prizes aren’t being awarded, the building would be used to host lectures, science-related seminars, regular exhibitions, and other important ceremonies. While the project might be temporarily stalled out, Chipperfield Architects released a suite of new interior renderings right before the ruling came down. The new images reveal the Center’s finalized interior layout and a surprisingly stark choice of materials. The Center’s smaller footprint has necessitated a tighter layout, and from the renderings, it appears that the building will be precisely programmed, with circulation moving around a central void between floors. Chipperfield has chosen to use raw concrete and will keep the building’s structural elements exposed, from the floor joists over guests’ heads to the concrete columns that break up the circulation areas. Even the sunken theater appears to be paneled in precast concrete (no word on how that might affect the acoustic properties). AN will follow up on this story as the case proceeds.
Brought to you with support fromLocated approximately halfway between Stockholm and Copenhagen, the city of Jönköping is situated at the southern end of Sweden's second largest lake, Vättern. Swedish architects Tham & Videgård Arkitekter designed two urban housing blocks that aim to balance private domestic interiors and a vast landscape with a screened balcony threshold. Titled Västra Kajen, which literally translates to West Quay, the waterfront project is the result of an invited competition from nearly 10 years ago. Rather than a row of standard housing “slabs,” the apartment units were assembled into two compact volumes. The architects say these buildings urbanistically help to establish a “solid position” that is proportionally acceptable both to the city as well as the adjacent lake, while minimizing the building envelope area for their ambitions to minimize building energy usage. An outer layer of terraces surrounds the perimeter of both buildings, providing every unit with a generous portion of outdoor space. These balconies are contained within a transparent screen of anodized aluminum that diffuses daylight. The system is composed of arched shapes that create alternating open and filtered views, offering a buffer zone between the intimate domestic interior of the apartments and the vast scale of the landscape outside. By shifting the voids in the screen every second level, a characteristic pattern emerges that unites the six floors into one distinct cubical volume. Both apartments are organized around a large vertical atrium with a top-lit stairwell to delineate a central social space that doubles as a circulation stairwell for the units. This atrium hall naturally preheats fresh air, contributing to overall energy efficiency of the building. Notably, the majority of the apartments are located at corners of the building, benefiting from good views and light. The two buildings are set at an offset angle to one another, to deliberately open up the inward facing sides to further prioritize daylight and views. The angle is determined by the geometry of the property, which accommodates a road that follows the edge of Lake Munksjön, a smaller body of water that taps into Lake Vättern by means of a harbor canal. While both six-story buildings are detailed similarly, subtle differences add variation to the project. This begins with the orientation to the siting of the building but extends to the interior geometry of their atria—a square cube volume in one building and a cylindrical volume in the second building. The aluminum screen and trim details further delineate the two buildings, finished in a dark and light anodized bronze color scheme.
After winning commission for the project in 2014, David Chipperfield and partner Christoph Felger's Nobel Center (or Nobelhuset) has endured a turbulent journey. In September last year, Chipperfield had to curtail plans for the Center, located in Blasieholmen in the heart of Stockholm, after it had garnered fervent opposition. It was reported that thousands had signed a petition stating that the building's scale was inconsiderate given the historic site's sensitivity. Caroline Silfverstolpehe of the Preserve Blasieholmen network, lamented the building, described it as a “giant colossus—a de facto convention centre on the mediaeval quayside pillaging everything in its path.” Now, however, the project has finally been given the green light after the city council voted 54 to 43 in favor of the Chipperfield's altered design. The vote, which Lars Heikensten, executive director of the Nobel Foundation, described as a “resounding yes,” came after planning approval was awarded last month. Provided there are no further appeals lodged against the project, ground could break along the Blasieholmen waterfront by 2017. Construction is set to take up to two years being completed by 2019. The project when amended last year was due to open in 2018. Located on the Blasieholmen peninsula on the edge of the Klara Sjö canal, the Nobel Center will host ceremonies for the natural science, humanities, and peace effort Nobel prizes as well as acting as a civic meeting place. In doing so it will be the first building ever to be dedicated to the event. In a statement on the modified project, David Chipperfield Architects said in September that “the modified design integrates the nobel center even better in its urban context and establishes a lively interaction with the citizens and visitors of Stockholm.” When AN first covered the story, the competition jury commented: “The proposed building conveys dignity and has an identity that feels well balanced for the Nobel Center. The limited footprint of the building allows room for a valuable park facing the eastern portions of the site, with plenty of space for a waterfront promenade along the quay. The facade surfaces will also reflect light from the sky down into the street or open space on Hovslagargatan.” “I understand that it evokes much emotion—to build in the inner city is difficult. It is difficult for the simple reason that we love our city. But I think that this knowledge centre could be something we should be proud of,” said councillor Magnus Nilsson. “I am convinced that the building in itself and the activities that will take place there will be highly appreciated,” he added.
Amidst the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference, numerous cities announced questionably large goals to reduce carbon emissions. However, Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Madrid, have backed their goals with concrete plans for extreme traffic regulation, ranging from a car-free city center in Oslo to free public transportation in Madrid.
Oslo's City Center to Be Car-Free by 2019
On October 19th, Oslo’s newly elected city council announced plans to turn the city center, within Ring 1, car-free by 2019. To do so, at least 37 miles of bicycle infrastructure will be established and protected, and all interfering or free parking spaces will be removed.
The plan will also include a new metro tunnel and end the extension of E18 to the west. Lastly, motorists will be charged a rush hour fee. Through these bold implementations, the city hopes to halve emissions by 2020 and remove 95 percent of emissions by 2030, as AN covered here. As a first step, the City of Oslo will stop all its investments in companies that produce fossil fuel energy.
Stockholm Royal Seaport to Be Fossil Fuel Free by 2040Since 1990, the City of Stockholm has lowered emissions by 44 percent, despite being one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Recently, Stockholm announced a goal to be fossil fuel free by 2040. Stockholm is one of three finalists in the Sustainable Communities category of the C40 Cities Awards. Stockholm's recognized project, Stockholm Royal Seaport, is one of Europe's largest urban development areas and aims to limit carbon dioxide emission below 3,000 pounds per person by 2020. By 2040, Stockholm Royal Seaport is expected to house 12,000 new residential units and 35,000 workspaces, in addition to becoming fossil fuel free.
Amsterdam to Prioritize Local Traffic at the City CenterEarlier this year, the Amsterdam city council agreed on a new design for Muntplein Square, but recent studies reveal traffic in the city center should be limited even further. A car number plate analysis revealed that 20 percent of motorized traffic in the city center is to access surrounding areas, 15 percent is to access areas further outside the city, and 30 percent are just circulating—taxis looking for customers or people in search of parking. The city council therefore agreed to implement further traffic limitations. The new plan will direct unnecessary traffic in the city center to outside roads and prioritize local traffic, creating more space for pedestrians and cyclists. Taxis will experience the largest extension in travel time—roughly six minutes per vehicle each week. Residents and commercial vehicles will have an additional two to three minutes of travel time each week. Although the city council has agreed upon rerouting city center traffic, they will not vote until 2016. If approved, the plan will be implemented before the end of the year.
Madrid to Monitor Air Quality With Strict Traffic RegulationsThis year, Madrid received an F, 58 percent, in the Soot Free Cities rankings, and later announced plans to enact some of the most rigorous anti-pollution laws in the world. On days when air quality falls below a designated threshold, half of cars will be banned from the roads, drastic speed limits will be implemented, and public transportation will be free. According to El Pais, these measures would have a daily cost of $2 million, and if monthly and annual transit pass users are refunded for the day, the daily cost would rise to $4.4 million. Although these numbers are dreading to a city swamped in financial crisis, studies reveal the city’s pollution is responsible for 2000 premature deaths per year, and therefore the matter must be addressed. If these four plans are approved and successfully implemented, their measures may become a pattern across the globe.
David Chipperfield has curtailed plans for his design for Stockholm's Nobel Center (or Nobelhuset) just five months after winning a competition for the project back in April this year. In a statement on the modified project, David Chipperfield Architects said that "the modified design integrates the nobel center even better in its urban context and establishes a lively interaction with the citizens and visitors of Stockholm." When AN first covered the story, the jury comments from the competition were: "The proposed building conveys dignity and has an identity that feels well balanced for the Nobel Center. The limited footprint of the building allows room for a valuable park facing the eastern portions of the site, with plenty of space for a waterfront promenade along the quay. The facade surfaces will also reflect light from the sky down into the street or open space on Hovslagargatan." Sited on the Blasieholmen peninsula on the edge of the Klara Sjö canal, the Nobel Center will host ceremonies for the natural science, humanities, and peace effort Nobel prizes as well as acting as a civic meeting place. In doing so it will be the first building ever to be dedicated to the event. Despite a reduction in size, the idea behind the project remains intact. The building has become slightly more legible as now onlookers can gaze into all floors from the exterior, meanwhile the top floor responds to the surrounding typologies. Surrounded by slithers of opaque glass and metal pilaster strips, the facade according to the architects, "envelopes the building like a dress." This feature is meant to establish visual connection with the city and buildings surroundings. Other changes to the scheme include the implementation of a south terrace and a new plaza inspired by the nearby Blaisieholmstorg Square on the north side. The program includes an auditorium, a museum, conference facilities, educational spaces, and offices, as well as a restaurant, a bar, café, and shop. The focal point of the building is the auditorium which has also been developed during the alteration process, with the intention for it to be the future venue of the Nobel Prize Ceremony for Sciences, Literature, and Economic Sciences. The building is currently set to open in 2018.
The roster of cities across the world going car-free is growing, joining Paris, Stockholm and Dublin
The concept of car-free city centers is fast spreading throughout Europe as increasingly gridlocked thoroughfares render the private car intolerable. Brussels, Belgium, has announced the development of pedestrian boulevards in its city center—with a ban on cars effective from June 29, 2015—where the city will stage recreational and cultural activities throughout the summer. A new traffic circulation plan will be test-driven, literally, for an 8-month trial period, during which the city will submit a request for an urban planning redevelopment permit. In the meantime, expect the development of eight distinct temporary spaces to enhance the appeal of a car-free city—from a welcome space with picnic tables, a dedicated area for rollerskaters and bikers, a stage at the Place de la Bourse, and a game area for kids at the intersection of Marché aux Poulets street. Stockholm, Sweden, well-reputed for having Europe’s highest share of clean vehicles, will host a one-day car ban on September 19 to galvanize citizens to envision life in the city without four wheels. Automobiles will be barred from the streets of Gamla Stan, the partially pedestrian “old city” of Stockholm, to the perpetually thronged Sergel’s Square, as well as roads around the central station and some of the city’s surrounding bridges. The ban is the Stockholm's contribution to European Mobility Week, a project by the European Commission that seeks to promote sustainable transportation. Over 200 cities will participate this year, touting various green initiatives. For instance, Ridderkerk, in the Netherlands, will hold Groene Voetstappen from September 14–18, during which children will be expected to walk and cycle to school. Meanwhile, Mosfellsbær, Iceland, will start a widespread distribution of bike maps, create new bike trails near Mount Esja and Reykjavik city, and launch a pilot project offering tourist bus services between the main attractions of the municipality. Appetite to reappropriate the roads has spread even to Mumbai, where car-free Sundays on a scenic, oceanside road are a much-anticipated affair on roads that are ordinarily lethal to cyclists and pedestrians, some of them lacking sidewalks and choked with vendors or parked cars. Given the proliferation of cities subscribing to car-free ideals—even those lacking public transportation networks sufficient to replace the private car—New York City’s passivity on this front becomes even more stark. On June 18, Mayor de Blasio announced a ban on cars at Central Park north of 72nd street and the West Drive of Prospect Park starting June 29 and July 6 respectively, but these vehicle scale-backs are minor in comparison, especially for one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the USA. New York does set aside half a Sunday three times a year for its popular Summer Streets event where Park Avenue from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park is temporarily shut to cars. This year's event kicked off over the weekend with a large slip-n-slide in Foley Square among other attractions.
CLOSE AD ×